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World Day Against the Death Penalty 2014: Mental Health

On 10 October 2014, the 12th World Day Against the Death Penalty is drawing attention to people with mental health problems who are at risk of a death sentence or execution. While opposing the death penalty absolutely, abolitionists are also committed to see existing international human rights standards implemented. Among these is the requirement that persons with mental illness or intellectual disabilities should not face the death penalty.

Prisons are becoming the mental institutions of the 21st century.

This reflects, at least in part, the failure of societies to provide adequate care and support to people with mental illness and intellectual disabilities. It is important to stress that people with mental disorders do not, in general, pose a higher risk of violence than the general population although there is considerable evidence that they are at greater than average risk of becoming victims of violence. There are, however, numerous cases of people who were in need of mental health care that they did not receive who then went on to commit acts of violence.

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